A small business may not seem like it has much environmental impact. This is because you are only looking at what is right in front of you. But a business relies on several key support systems. Your business’s footprint extends far beyond your physical store to your supplies, manufacturers, distributors, and the packaging your consumers have to discard or recycle.
People care about their environmental impact and how they live to the point that many are actively seeking businesses that share their values. The same way you would consult a retirement investment expert now rather than when you’re old, you need to consult a sustainability expert now, rather than when your consumers begin going over to your competitors. Your success and future profits may rely on embracing the green initiative.
You need to find out where your raw materials are coming from. You must determine if your supplier is an ethical business and follow social and environmental guidelines in producing or sourcing the raw materials. Adopting a policy of “don’t ask, don’t know” is juvenile and will make you lose consumers.
This will be especially painful as you are a small business. Every customer is necessary for a small business, and you must be ready to prove that you care about their needs by giving them a cruelty-free product.
In addition to being cruelty-free, you must also ensure that the materials are recyclable and biodegradable. Any declarations you make about being green can be easily proved lies if your raw materials can be tested and proved to be harmful. It is challenging to recover from having your integrity shattered, so begin looking for ethical and environmentally conscious suppliers.
Storage and Delivery
Every storage facility is not equal. Some warehouses use large amounts of power and add to your carbon footprint simply because you use their space to store your goods. These warehouse companies do not need to change their ways if they keep receiving business and make money. Take a page out of your customers’ book, and begin spending your budget with sustainability in mind.
Use warehouses that run on alternative fuel sources. Consider working with other small businesses to find the storage space you need without capitulating the prices and business practices of large warehouse chains.
Your Packaging Matters
This is an issue that has been slowly simmering for a long time. Consumers are recycling and trying to reuse the packaging they receive with their products. If your small business gives your customers packaging that is impossible to recycle, cannot be reused, and take up unnecessary space, then you are unlikely to see return business.
Reduce your packaging size, and find a more sustainable way to package the products. Adapt your packaging to the size of your products. Have different sizes of packaging so that you do not pack a small item in a large container. This does not give off the idea that your brand is luxurious. It is instead an indicator of poor design and planning.
Seek to make the packaging as useful as possible after being unpacked. Customers will appreciate packaging that can be used for storage or repurposed as mulch for a garden. You can work with green initiatives and businesses that produce pouches and boxes using wood pulp, help, and recycled cardboard. There are many packaging solutions out there. Find the one that works for your budget and products.
Paperless Billing and E-commerce Transactions
Sending paper bills and expecting cash payouts are the old ways of doing business. The future is digital and more people are expecting to have cashless transactions. It is also more beneficial to your business if you go the paperless route.
There are services where it is cheaper to send invoices and quotations to customer phones and emails than to send a paper bill. Where a paper bill can be lost or misplaced, a phone reminder can send a notification. Emails can be starred, prioritized, and if lost, easily re-sent or found in the Spam folder.
E-commerce significantly reduces the need for you to chase payments. Customers are much more willing to pay half or full price for a service or product online than to pay in cash. There is more security in using an e-commerce platform because of guidelines and rules that protect both the buyer and seller. Some e-commerce platforms also moderate disputes and can help you work out solutions that can help you salvage a sale if a consumer is displeased with a transaction.
Lastly, get your employees invested in the green initiative as well. They are the main people who face customers, prepare products, and manage administrative tasks. If they do not have a stake in helping your business achieve sustainability, then the change-over will be slow and painstaking.
With a dedicated staff invested in the ways that sustainability benefits them and makes their work easier, you will find that your company achieves your green goals much more smoothly and with less hassle.